The key board started talking first. Then a drum started reverberating somewhere at the back of the hall and moving towards the stage. He needed no introduction. It was a meeting of two magicians of music, blessed with their souls and life full of music, fingers flying on drums and keyboards, making hearts sore as one to heaven.
The name Sivamani and the man himself epitomizes a rhythm that you can’t even think of. Drums of all shapes, sizes and makes are not the only instruments that his hands create magic with. Music jumps out of things that we consider mundane when his fingers touch them. The evening progressed from a friendly conversation between four keyboards and the innumerable percussion instruments on stage and moved gracefully to a solo performance by the maestro of rhythm. Can you imagine cycle bells, spoons and an Aristocrat suitcase being music to your ears? Spellbound would have been an understatement. I will have to look at my plastic water dispenser at home with new found respect after listening to the ‘taal’ that he could bring out from it. A school bell never sounded so inviting as yesterday.
To hold on your own and be a worthy match to someone who is world famous and considered to be one of the best in his field is no mean feat. But the fact that you are Stephen Devassy might make it a little bit easier. He started getting noticed widely on his keyboards on one of the numerous music reality shows in a Malayalam TV channel. For those who knew Stephen, it was no surprise though. The boy who started his tryst with keys when he was 10, is the top scorer from Asia in solo piano music from Trinity College of Music , London. He also holds the record of competing the course in three years time.
The jugalbandi started as a freindly banter between the drums and the key boards, turned into a serious conversation in between, an argument later, then a furious give an take and ultimately ended in a heavenly crescendo. At times we wondered whether Stephen was playing drums on his keyboard – so fast was the tempo and even faster were his fingers flying over the keys from one board to another, then yet another and then on two keyboards at the same time!
Blessed are those who can transform a whole audience through their music and truly blessed are those who can do it with the utmost humility and gentleness. And we were blessed enough to witness two of these great musicians in a live performance yesterday.
Here is a link to one of their performances for a musical reality show in Malayalam:-
And another one from the same show, truly magic!
(the program was Heaven’s Fury by Sivamani and Stephen Devassy at Christ University, Bangalore)